X-Message-Number: 4415
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 18:33:41 -0400
Subject: misc.

Eugen Leitl, in one of his interesting postings (#4409), says a couple of
things with which I would take mild issue.

1. He suggests (as many others have done) that long-livers might be extremely
risk-averse, staying home to avoid accidents etc and thus subject to boredom.
There are several things to be said here:

First, the risk of death per person per year will not be a constant and will
(probably) not be anywhere near today's value. The improvement in repair
capability and in safety mechanisms will reduce the risk number; and the
prospect of long life will reduce the number of desperate or menacing people.

Second, the need or desire to travel or to mingle may diminish, as
individuals become effectively wealthier and as virtual reality type devices
allow simulated travel to become more and more realistic. Telephones have for
many years allowed us to talk to friends without visiting them; vidphones are
beginning to allow sight as well; this trend will continue.

Mr. Leitl also indicates that (at least some) uploading issues have been long
settled. Unless he was being ironic, this is wrong. The central issue of
criteria of survival is  nowhere near settled. In particular, two unresolved
issues are outstanding:

1. We do not know the anatomy/physiology of the subjective circuit or the
self circuit--the seat of feeling and the ground of being--hence cannot say
whether it is supportable outside of organic brains.

2. We have not resolved the "philosophical" isues related to duplication and
to continuity.

3. We know almost nothing about time (or spacetime), and cannot even say for
sure that we "survive" (in some appropriate sense) in the ordinary course of

Is any of this useful?  Aside from the amusement value, it may conceivably
add a trifle to the incentive for cryostasis, to allow future pursuit of
these matters. 

Robert Ettinger

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